From standalone high rises to entire cities, engineered wood is being experimented with at various levels. The material with its many variants promises structures that are greener and lighter than concrete and glass, while being as strong. There is no doubt that engineered wood, like traditional wood is definitely an excellent material for construction; in fact, it scores over traditional timber is having greater fire resistance, and lending itself to pre-fabrication.
Architects today are faced with a host of parameters to consider when they set out to work on a project. From conceptualizing structures that merge into the surrounding landscape yet are unique, to working with materials that will reduce the carbon footprint of the final structure, to exploring technology that will ensure minimal construction time and disturbance… the list is a long one.
These various considerations in the recent years have led to innovations, inventions, use of new materials, new applications of existing building materials, and more. The current issue of InterEdge looks at the return and use of engineered timber, mass timber and also the traditional log timber in contemporary constructions. This is an interesting trend especially since wood and timber have not been used in architecture since the 1920s, and have been replaced by concrete and glass. But the huge carbon footprint that these materials of modern urban growth have, has led architects and planners to opt for newer, greener materials.
Engineered timber, even being referred to at times as the building material of the future, comes in many variants. There is cross laminated timber, Glulam timber, and other forms of plywood being used for structural construction today. Engineered wood is produced by the mixed process of heating and galvanizing layers of wood placed at right angles to provide strength to the finished panel. These panels are then planed, sanded, laminated when used on the outer surface. They are also being used to form the core structure of the buildings and drywalled and covered with conventional materials to meet fire codes and regulations of different markets and forums.
The new material is pre-fabricated, easier and faster to work with, is considered as strong as steel and concrete; while being more fire resistant than the traditional materials (up to 2-3 hours more). In the experiments with engineered timber being conducted across different continents, architects have been using them in exclusively, in combinations and as support material to the main structure.
With these still being early days of engineered timber in the area of construction, there are still doubts about how this material will react to moisture, to excessive load stress, to earthquakes; the projects covered in this issue make an interesting read. We invite you to explore the next few pages with an open mind, and make up your mind whether this is really the building material of the future.
In this issue, we explore the use of engineered timber in new high rises. While concrete took over the world in the last 50 years, consumption of timber will be very fruitful for coming years. It might also be the other way around due to large amount of pollution and emissions in the environment. When wood is cut or brought from forests in its raw form, it is further processed and fabricated into laminated woods and cross laminated timber (CLT). CLT as a material is produced by the mixed process of heating and galvanizing which provides it shine and luster and makes it firm and fire resistant (up to 2-3 hours more than steel or concrete). Why CLT has taken over and made its place to the list of building materials? Is it because of its cost efficiency? Yes, another factor of consumption of timber is that it saves both time and money. CLT is efficiently used for making high-rise structures, bridges, pavilions, and many more, due to its light weight composition, which will in turn protect the architecture from earthquakes, stormy winds, etc.
Though timber is such a useful material and is helpful material and is so helpful in not only contributing to the environment but also to the building process. Numerous countries in the world have scarce bio-diversity and forests. They fear getting retained of forests leads to less timber projects. Apart from the environmental factor, timber is a high maintenance material as well. There is always a fear factor of wooden structures getting deteriorated, like for example catching fungus, swelling of wood due to rains; also, its ductility is very tangible hence not preferable for long run.
Even if wooden structures are beneficial and efficient they do lack somewhere or the other. However, encouragement should be given to these structures as they equally contribute a lot to the environment and in turn reduces global warming.